Among my fund of what are I suspect by some accounts less than endearing conventions is one which I cheerfully embrace on several grounds. The custom to which I refer is that of breakfast. For starters, breakfast is predominantly a morning repast even if extended by drunken delay or overt design (usually with the same calculated purpose through such elevating beverages as a Bloody Caesar or Champagne) to the anodized ceremony of brunch. Breakfast entails more often than not an early rising. The meal traditionally punctuates a soothing sleep and a natural gusto for a new day. Breakfast is thus a placemat for the very idea of inspiration!
It is my unwitting advantage to have always preferred breakfast to any other meal of the day notwithstanding the condition in which I approached the trough. Whether the ritual observance were performed as a dirty little boy at prep school, as a recovering cad in white painter pants on a hot morning in Key West, as a protocol barrister in the practice of law or as a curmudgeonly old fogey, I am unfailingly spirited to put on the nosebag in any condition. The rite has been characterized by innumerable renditions. The first was bacon, eggs, toast and jam. I recall briefly having graduated to Marmite and butter on dry toast grâce à Robbie Buchner whose parents drove a Jaguar sedan and were terribly British. The most egregious portrayal was the four decades spent before 9:00 am at the Superior Restaurant with John H. Kerry, Nick Magus, Ross Taggart, Garry Davis and various other interlopers. Lubricated by the charitable culinary production of Peter Charos, and dignified by the blameless delivery of Gladys Currie, I translated the former bacon and eggs to Mephistophelian protein.
Since those days – and, in fullness of transparency, since my open heart surgery – I have engaged in modified forms of breakfast including notably steel cut oats and fruit. The latter persuasion persisted for almost a decade (yes, the tarsome nature of routine is clearly evident). Most recently however I have switched to a studied combination of baguette-style bagel, Port Neuf cheese and – here’s the clincher – apple sauce.
Apple sauce is about as common as tropical fruit salad – and typically as inviting. Most people I would imagine buy apple sauce in a can or jar at the grocery store; that is, they don’t trouble themselves to make their own. Now I am not a chef and even were I attempt to be I wouldn’t expect my production of apple sauce to be out of the ordinary. But as luck would have it my partner succeeds to culinary eminence! How it was that this latest recipe of homemade apple sauce first unfolded I am uncertain but I rather suspect it grew out of a yearning for something new and moderately less repetitive. What Chef has constructed is foremost an isolation from the usual. Specifically his apple sauce is not purée. If I understand the normal process correctly it consists of cooking the apples (sometimes in their entirety) then putting the creation throw a sieve or blender. I further suspect that the customary additives vary from sugar to cinnamon (as often the resulting “paste” is employed in pies or as topping).
The form to which I am treated is in one respect of the simplest performance; namely, though the apple is cut, the peel remains. The only additive apart from a small amount of tap water is freshly squeezed lemon juice. The whole is then simmered on the stove top but without removing all the crispness of the apple slices. It is also significant that the whole consists of multiple types of apples – usually, twelve in total, three of each. The variety is naturally one of personal choice but I have found that the crispier and juicier models are best. Though I doubt it matters, my preference is to have a bowl of the apple sauce served chilled. The initial spoonful is a perfect delight and an ideal preamble to one’s morning constitution!
“The bridge tables were not set out in the garden-room, which entailed a scurry over damp gravel on a black, windy night, but in the little square parlour above her dining-room, where Withers, in the intervals of admitting her guests, was laying out plates of sandwiches and the chocolate cakes, reinforced when the interval for refreshments came with hot soup, whisky and syphons, and a jug of “cup” prepared according to an ancestral and economical recipe, which Miss Mapp had taken a great deal of trouble about. A single bottle of white wine, with suitable additions of ginger, nutmeg, herbs and soda-water, was the mother of a gallon of a drink that seemed aflame with fiery and probably spirituous ingredients. Guests were very careful how they partook of it, so stimulating it seemed.“